AGGRESSIVE Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, has rescinded Harare City Council’s decision to lay off over 3 000 employees on three months notice saying it is an insensitive move, setting the stage for a potentially long running turf war.
By Andrew Kunambura
Kasukuwere announced the move on a local radio programme on Wednesday, a day after council terminated employment contracts for the workers.
More woes await the city fathers as the MDC-T’s Harare provincial youth assembly met, also on Wednesday, and recommended that Harare Mayor, Bernard Manyenyeni, should be suspended from council.
The country’s main opposition party has the majority of councillors in the chamber.
Kasukuwere said he has received correspondence from council which confirmed the decision by the local authority on workers but said he did not agree with it.
According to the Urban Councils Act, retrenchment of such magnitude cannot happen without the minister’s approval.
“I am surprised that the City of Harare is looking in that direction. I am very surprised. The resolutions (of the Monday meeting) came to my office. We cannot accept that,” he fumed.
“There is a better chance for the city to turnaround its fortunes with collection of rates and ensuring that all services it provides are paid for. We have had a situation where top officials have been earning huge salaries and how do you leave those and fire the least paid, some of whom are actually three, four or five months behind their salaries? We cannot continue pushing the pain. That is being too insensitive and I shall meet with the mayor and engage the city fathers and make a resolution which will not make people suffer,” he said.
The MDC-T Harare provincial youth assembly also opposed the mass sacking of workers in a press statement on Wednesday.
“The Harare province youth assembly strongly condemns the action of council which will put many already suffering families into deep suffering and even street vending,” read the statement.
The youths also called on the party’s leadership to suspend the mayor and chairpersons of the finance and human resources committees for five years.
They also called for an extraordinary full council meeting to reverse the decision.
The Harare Municipal Workers Union (HMWU) also sharply condemned the decision as designed to sacrifice ordinary workers at the expense of city bosses.
“City of Harare is not sincere in its actions as it is public knowledge that the City Council management is taking home obscene salaries and condemning the ordinary worker to months without salary at the same time they have a surplus, but are not paying workers their due salaries on time, despite assuring government that they would ensure compliance since the financial resources are available,” said Cosmas Bungu, executive chairman of HWMU.
Bungu also called on Kasukuwere to urgently intervene to save the workers.
The mass sacking of employees across the country came after a ruling by the Supreme Court on July 17 that gave employers the green light to fire workers on three months notice. – Fingaz